by: Jacob Rogers
The Detroit Pistons are off to a hot start to the 2018-19 NBA regular season as they have a 4-1 record through their first five games. All four of the Pistons wins this season have come by seven points or less as Detroit has had to battle their way through games. The biggest reason why the Pistons are off to such a fast start has been due to the play of veteran power forward, Blake Griffin.
Griffin was acquired by Detroit from the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline last season; a year in which he averaged 19.8 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.4 assists, all while shooting 44 percent from the floor and 35 percent from three point range in the 25 games he played with Detroit. Those numbers have only gotten better this season.
Through five games, Griffin is averaging 28.4 points, including a 50 point game against Philadelphia, 10 rebounds, and 4.6 assists while shooting 50 percent from the floor and 55 percent from beyond the arc.Producing numbers like this shows that Griffin could return to being the superstar he once was, barring any sort of injury.
Griffin has flourished under new head coach Dwane Casey’s system, and seems to be the catalyst the Pistons need. However, Griffin will not always put up numbers like this as he had a dud of a game Oct 27 against the Boston Celtics. In this contest, Griffin only had seven points and six rebounds on 2-13 shooting in 30 minutes of action. This game resulted in a 109-89 loss, which would be the first and only loss for the Pistons so far.
Another reason for the Pistons quick start to the year has been the return of starting point guard, Reggie Jackson. After coming off a career year in 2015-16, Jackson has dealt with injury riddled seasons the past two years. Jackson looks like he is beginning to return to his old self again as he has averages of 16.8 points and 4.2 assists in 30 minutes per game. However, Jackson is not fully back to his normal self as he is only shooting 38 percent from the floor and does not seem as explosive as he has been in years past. Luckily for the Pistons, some of that explosiveness looks to have gone to speedy backup point guard, Ish Smith.
Unlike in years past, Smith and Jackson have seen the floor together quite a bit this season as Casey likes to run three guard lineups that include Smith, Jackson and either Langston Galloway or Luke Kennard. The pairing of Smith and Jackson has done damage when they are on the floor together as Jackson becomes more of an off ball threat and Smith is able to attack the basket, which is what he does best. Smith is having his best year as a Piston where he is averaging 13 points and 3.4 assists in 28 minutes per game, all while shooting a cool 56 percent from the floor and 47 percent from deep. Smith has always been a threat when it comes to attacking the basket, but has now become more of a three point threat. If Smith and Jackson continue to see time together, both of them could be in store for a good year.
Although the Pistons are off to a quick start, there is still a lot of basketball left to play this season. However, if the Pistons continue to play the way that they are now, they could end up with a solid record and their first playoff berth since 2015.